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Pirates! Cowboys! Swords! Pistols!

In episodes twenty-two and twenty-three, The Time Tunnel suddenly turns into a show tailor-made for me, and comes up with just about everything that I could want. That anybody could want, really. If there's anybody alive who doesn't think that pirates and cowboys are just about the most excitingest things ever, then they're probably somebody confused and disillusioned, and soon to see the error of their ways. Oh yes.

In "Billy The Kid", Doug and Tony - to nobody's great surprise except their own - come face to face with Billy The Kid. Galloping about the countryside, under fire from all and sundry, they try to stay alive. This episode is buckets of fun. It's nicely paced, there's tension and excitement, and it has all the proper things to expect from a Western: heroic good guys, and tough lawmen, and despicable outlaws, and guns. The only thing that lets it down is the by now enraging habit of flashing back to headquarters every time something exciting happens. Twenty episodes ago I was willing to put up with that, assuming it to be teething troubles. By now it's making me want to put a fist through the screen. Whoever thought up this show, be it Irwin Allen or one of his minions, they deserve congratulations - but they also deserve to be hit over the head with something heavy. Adding the crew back at Time Central has to be one of the stupidest moves that Irwin Allen Productions have ever made, alongside deciding to turn Lost In Space from a sci-fi drama into The Doctor Smith Show.

And then it's out of the Wild West, and into a battle at sea, where stock footage cannons roar, and film library sails crack and tumble. Cannons! Pirates! Swords! A skull and crossbones! And, sadly, a command crew getting in the way even more than usual. What writer in their right frame of mind thinks, "A sea battle! A really exciting sea battle! What a perfect time to go and sit in an office for a bit!"? This show is so close to being a great fun piece of entertainment, but every single time they ruin it with these asides. Seriously. Stop. It. Now.

*Deep breaths*

And some pictures.

As some varmints shoot up the town...

... Doug and Tony are caught up in the thick of it. For a change.

They take shelter in a sheriff's office, where a deputy watches over a lone prisoner.

But soon the gang outside break in and take over the place, busting the prisoner loose. He shoots the deputy, despite Tony's best efforts to stop him - Doug leaps to the defence of women, as we've seen. Clearly the men are Tony's department - before introducing himself as Billy The Kid.

I'm sure they think they're being dramatic, but they're in serious danger of shooting each other there.

For revenge, Billy dresses Tony up in his clothes, and sends him out into the street.

It's the Physics Kid!

Doug has his own views on the matter, and grabs a gun, shooting Billy. In the stomach, clearly, despite later claims that he was hit in the belt buckle. That's a damn silly place to keep a belt buckle.

Go away.

On the run, Doug and Tony hole up in a cold and abandoned shack.

With some impressive cobwebs stored in the cupboards.

And some nicely dramatic windows.

But Billy has followed. Gasp!

Preparing to ride out again, Doug and Tony handle their equipment like they've been saddletramps half their lives. Boy do they train their Physicists well in the States.

Insanely adorable scene where Tony plays cowboy, and Doug, in a rare moment where he actually relaxes, joins in.

Doug's smile doesn't last long though, as he feels bad for having killed Billy The Kid.

Consequently, when Billy pops out of the furniture a few moments later, Doug is ridiculously happy about it. Gun, murderous intent and all.


I like that it takes both of them to deal with him. He may be a low down, murd'rin' skunk, but he's still Billy The Kid.

With Billy tied up in a chair - for two guys who spend so much of their time on the other side of the bondage game, Doug and Tony are remarkably bad at knots - Tony plans to set out for help from the local sheriff.

But the sheriff is away, and his deputies assume that Tony is Billy, because of the clothes.

You'd think he'd be used to having guns pointed at him by now, but he still looks surprised when it happens.

It's a well known side effect of time travel, Tony. Just roll with it.

The conversation ends the same way these things usually do. Although I'm not sure why we have to be locked up in the cell too.

Not just in jail, but handcuffed to it, which is impressive even for Tony. They're lovely vintage handcuffs though, so I don't know what he's complaining about.

Unless it's the lynch mob massing outside.

Elsewhere, a piece of stock footage comes to menace Doug.

Who hides in a conveniently empty water tank. The stock footage soon turns into the rest of Billy's gang, who pick up Billy and then chase off after Doug into town. By a really round about route, apparently.

Back in town, the sheriff arrives. He's Pat Garrett, one time friend of Billy's, and consequently able to provide Tony with a quick way out. Instead of doing so, apparently just because he wants to go into the commercial break on a nice cliffhanger, he says that Tony is Billy.

That time screen, with its amazing ability to always be pointing exactly the right way at the right time, is annoying to the extreme. Just in case I hadn't already covered that in an earlier post.

Obligatory Western moment where somebody with a rifle looks out of a broken window during a shoot-out.

Some cows amble slowly through town, not pretending very hard to be a stampede. This is to cover Pat and Tony's escape from the lynch mob, so that they can go to join up with Doug. Somehow not passing him on the way.

I think people like pointing guns at Tony. There doesn't even have to be any reason for it - it's like this compulsion.

Arriving in town, Doug is challenged to a shoot-out by Billy, but at the last second, Pat Garrett arrives and shoots the gun out of Billy's hand.

So, Doug leaves the shack and heads for town, after which Pat arrives there and gets mixed up in a siege with Tony. He sends a deputy to fetch some cattle from out of town and stampede them, and there's a bit more shooting before they escape from the lynch mob. They ride to the shack and hunt about, finding Doug gone, and head after him. And they get back to town just after he arrives there. Did he have the slowest horse ever?!

Doug and Tony reunite, happy to still be alive.

Then, as they watch Billy being led off to jail by the sheriff...

... they get picked up by the time tunnel.

Leaving behind some very confused cowboys.

And then there's ships!

And cannons!

And pirates!

Doug and Tony land in the middle of the chaos.



Pirate den!


The evil pirate king ponders what to do with Doug and Tony. Can they be ransomed, perhaps?

Tony, however, has had a hard day, and decides that the best way to deal with psycho pirates is with sarcasm. Consequently he offers to contact his relatives in Philadelphia who haven't been born yet.

The pirate king is not best impressed, leaving Doug trying to smooth things over. Since they're sentenced to death, he's not terribly successful.

Armando, nephew to the King of Spain.

Armando has taken a shine to Doug and Tony, and asks if they can be his servants during his captivity. So they're not going to be shot after all. Hurrah!

Quickly (or later that night, anyway) they plot their escape.

Trekking across the island they go, not realising that it is an island until they discover that they have nowhere to escape to.

Whereupon they are promptly caught. Constantly being recaptured is a bit of a running theme this week.

As punishment, the pirate king summons a huge pirate warrior.

Uh oh.

Fight! Fortunately Doug and Tony are saved by another pirate ship, bringing news of the American Navy patrolling the area. It's time for everybody to leave. Or go and sit on a different bit of beach, whichever.

Doug and Tony discuss escape plans. It's 1805, so the American war against piracy is led either by Stephan Decatur or by John Paul Jones. Since the latter is the bass player with Led Zeppelin, I can only assume that it's the former. For once, Doug and Tony's amazing store of knowledge deserts them, however, and they can only wonder.

And in the meantime make sandbags, which are sure to be of use when the entire American Navy descends upon the tiny island. Given how slowly they're working, and how many guards seem to be needed to keep them at it, it's not exactly the most efficient production line ever.

Fight! Once again Doug and Tony stage an escape. And once again it's not remotely successful.

Things do not look good for our heroes.

And then they get worse.

And then some ships start shooting at the beach, which is not what you might call an improvement.

Still, they're very nice ships, it must be said.

Happily for Doug and Tony, one of the cannonballs knocks out all of the pirates, and yet miraculously not Armando, who slips back to rescue them. Once again they try to make their escape, but once again it's rather less than successful.

And Tony gets shot in the head again, and left for dead again, and wakes up a few moments later again with just a scalp wound again. Not that any of this has happened before or anything.

So, entirely of it's own volition apparently, the time tunnel HQ magic screen displays Tony waking up, then a ship out at sea, and then Tony swimming out to the ship. How? How does it do this? How does it choose where to point, and how does it know when to point there? It's nearly as irritating as the similarly magical cameras on that wretched submarine on Man From Atlantis. Now, The Time Tunnel is far too good to be compared to that unfortunate nonsense, but the time screen is just ridiculous. It's the sort of silliness that can undermine an entire show.

Ship! In a battle! At sea! With cannons!

Definitely not the bass player with Led Zeppelin.

Decatur listens to Tony's story, but is unsympathetic. It's war, there's cannons and ships and exploding and stuff like that, and it would be a bit hard to go and look for Doug and Armando right now. But hello anyway, and welcome aboard.

On the pirate ship, Doug bonds with Armando in Tony's absence. He's a good deal smaller than Tony, but on the plus side, far less likely to cause trouble. Or get them all sentenced to death by being sarcastic to armies of evil pirates.

However then the ship collapses, so their partnership never really gets to go anywhere.

And then, guess what? Yep, they've done it again. The pirate king gets picked up by the time tunnel. W00t. This causes ten minutes worth of security alerts and shouting and rubbish.

There's a sea battle, and Doug and Tony are caught up in the middle of it. There's swords and ships and cannons and guns and stuff, and we're watching some people run across a bridge.

That place needs some serious blowing up.

Sent back, the pirate king battles Doug beside a nicely dramatic, burning red window.

Whilst the battle rages outside.

Poor Tony's not enjoying the battle nearly as much as he should be. It's a battle, Tony. A battle with sailing ships and cannons and pirates, for goodness sakes. Enjoy it.

Things are not good, however. Doug and Armando have been picked up by the American Navy, and Doug is in a bad way.

Then with a "Ping!", up pops a doctor from the time tunnel to give him an injection and make everything all right again.

Delighted, Doug and Tony have another of their slashfic moments.

Then everybody goes to look after Armando, and consider whether or not to adopt him as one of the team.

Decatur's XO comes down to see how everybody is doing, and is a little concerned by the sudden influx of peculiarly dressed Americans in the middle of the ocean. Naturally this leads to Tony telling him the truth about who they are. That man really needs to stop talking.

The time tunnel doctor announces that he's staying, because it's better than being pensioned off back in 1968.

Doug and Tony don't seem entirely convinced, but what the hey, he's old enough to make up his own mind. Then off they go to new adventures. But back at HQ, a spy is fiddling with the equipment. Something goes wrong with the time tunnel, and Doug and Tony are soon thrashing on the ground in agony. The time tunnel is killing them! Oh no!

Golly! Next on The Time Tunnel, evil spies and the Merchant of Death; which sounds like an awesome job title to aspire to. It certainly beats Employee of the Week.


( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jul. 1st, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
so, if the Time Tunnel Crew can a)find Doug and Tony whenever they want b) send them a doctor, then why can't Doug and Tony just come home? Surely all this messing about with history will cause problems?
Jul. 2nd, 2011 08:13 am (UTC)
Messing about with history is an interesting philosophical point, though, as technically they've become part of history, and are only doing what they had always done. Perhaps.

But yeah. I do wish somebody had realised that being able to transport everybody and everything except Doug and Tony - without any proper explanation other than "we don't have a good focus on them just at the moment" - is rather undermining the whole thing! It's one of the reasons why I don't think having the command crew there is a good idea.
Jul. 1st, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Oh god that is crazily beautiful! My favourite bit is the very very pretty interlude with the hat. Or when they were terrorised by stock footage. ♥
Jul. 2nd, 2011 08:43 am (UTC)
Why has Heyes brought a stranger in a grey hat to watch Kid in the bath?!

Oh, the stock footage. The stock footage is truly terrifying, and rages rampant throughout history, terrorising Doug and Tony wherever they go. Mongol hordes, pirates, Vikings, slightly irritated cows - they're all there, on film, determined to wreak havoc. Who knew film could be so dangerous?
Jul. 2nd, 2011 08:51 am (UTC)
Curry is so grumpy about having to share his bathing with someone who isn't Heyes.
Jul. 8th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
This looks like a great episode. Voyagers should have mixed cowboys and pirates! Why can't Armando be the original Jeffrey Jones? lol. Does he grow up to become someone important in history? Awesome pictures!
Jul. 9th, 2011 08:53 am (UTC)
You can't go wrong with pirates and cowboys! It was two episodes rather than one, but I did watch them as a double bill.

I couldn't find anything about Armando, so I think he was probably just made up. "The Time Tunnel" doesn't bother a great deal about historical accuracy. It wasn't supposed to be educational in the same way as "Voyagers!" was!
( 7 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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